Flights to Christchurch: Shaken, not stirred
Often called New Zealand's 'Garden City', Christchurch has earned a much hipper nickname since the 'quakes: 'The City That Rocks'. Locals are described as 'one-eyed' by fellow Kiwis, due to their unshakeable belief that their Crusaders rugby team is the best in the land if not the world! Although rubble still rules in places it's not often a city gets to recreate itself while welcoming visitors like this resilient city is doing.
Eat and drink
Canterbury's stony plains and volcanic peninsula helps make its lamb, wine and olives some of the best in New Zealand. Make up your own mind on your Christchurch holiday by joining local foodies heading over the hill to sample fruity wines in the vineyards of volcanic Banks Peninsula. Scoff crumbly cheddar, havarti and gouda from 19th-century Barry's Bay Cheese Factory. Christchurch has top coffee roasters and award-winning baristas for your coffee fix. Christchurch favourite Strawberry Fare is your place for pâté, terrines, dill-cured salmon or a sticky date pud.
Back to nature
After flights to Christchurch stretch your legs along the many trails on the Port Hills. Grab a hoky-poky ice-cream at the Sign of the Kiwi, and check out the views of the city, plains and Southern Alps before you burn off the creamy calories. Later, dive into the water from the Black Cat catamaran to swim with the smallest dolphin in the world. Scared of water? Enjoy them from the deck instead!
Grab a free tour of the Canterbury Museum to hunt for moa and whales. Spot talent at the many art galleries including NZ’s favourite painting Cass by 1930s local Rita Angus at Christchurch Art Gallery. Check out vibrant poi and haka performances then feast on a traditional hangi dinner at Ko Tane, a ‘living Maori village’. Local Maori are represented in all areas of Christchurch life, but the All Blacks' Ka Mate haka might not be welcome here - its nineteenth-century composer, warrior chief Te Rauparaha once devastated the area.
Where? Christchurch lies on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island. The Canterbury Plains sprawl westwards to the Southern Alps, making for cold winters, hot summers and warm gusty winds called 'the nor'wester'.
Population: Approximately 340,000 people make Christchurch home. 10,000 left after the quakes but many are returning. Maori settlers arrived in the region about 1,000 years ago and were joined in the 1800s by migrating Brits.
Key dates: Earthquakes shook Canterbury in 2010 and 2011, devastating inner Christchurch. In 1867 the Lyttleton railway tunnel was the first in the world drilled through a volcano rim.
Did you know? Christchurch’s Kate Sheppard played a key part in New Zealand becoming the first country in the world to give all women the vote in 1893. Check her out on the $10 note and the bronze wheelbarrow petition in the city center.
Looking for stars? The George, overlooking Hagley Park, is New Zealand's leading boutique hotel. Find more luxury at the Classic Villa in the city centre. Even budget backpackers can stay by the parks and gardens at the friendly YMCA with its cafe and gym.
Don't stress if you sleep in; Drexels serves scrumptious breakfast all day. Addington Coffee Co-op is fair (trade) and free (Wi-Fi). Bodhi Tree, a local favourite, has relocated while The Curator's House has reopened in the city.
Shopping in Christchurch
NG has re-opened for fashionistas in the Bains Warehouse and you can create your own jewellery souveniers at Beadz. Or get literary at Scorpio bookshop in the colourful, evolving and funky Container Mall in Cashel Street.
The Christchurch nightlife scene keeps on changing. Try a bar in a container, appropriately called Cargo, or join locals over craft beers at The Brewery. You can chew the fat over steaks at Running Bull, or ponder over prawns in the rugby-ball-shaped Town Ball bar.
The penguins are cute on ice at the Antarctic Centre, and dead moa bones fill the museum. Over at Willowbank you'll discover that the kiwi might be flightless but it's certainly not extinct - they're not even behind glass!